English faculty come from the East and West coasts, New England and the Southeast, urban centers and prairie farms. Karen Marsalek graduated from St. Olaf and went off to study at Oxford and the University of Toronto before returning as a faculty member. Joseph Mbele‘s interest in folklore began as he listened to the spellbinding storytellers of his native Tanzania.
Our diversity is more than a matter of origins. Department members have taught in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Dar es Salaam; in Dublin, Gothenberg, and Ljubljana; have taken off-campus courses to London, the Caribbean, Ireland, South Africa, and Cuba; have led St. Olaf’s Global semester and Term in Asia. We hold advanced degrees from across the country, across national borders, across an ocean: Cornell and Brown; the Universities of Chicago, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Washington; the University of Toronto and Oxford University.
Our interests are expressed in research, presentations and writing: from graphic satire to Anne Bradstreet, from collecting and the underground economy to Yoruba cosmology, from a review of Joyce Carol Oates’ new novel to a lecture on “The Liberal Arts Moment and Life’s Race.” Among us are writers of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, book reviews and screen plays.
Environmental literature, 19th century book binding, writing the elegy, masculinity theory, early American political satire, children’s and young adult literature, King Arthur, women writers and lives in the Renaissance and the 19th century, Japanese fiction–someone in the English department is digging into each of these areas.
All of these interests inform teaching both within the department and in St. Olaf programs such as the Great Conversation, American Conversations, Women’s Studies, and American Racial and Multicultural Studies. English faculty have been praised as “strong” and “creative” by Barron’s College Guide and by Edward Fiske, former Education Editor of the New York Times.